Seeing the Future
The text I received went something like this:
The doctors have given him two months to live. He really wants to meet with an elementary Art teacher, with the hopes that he can pass on his classroom gadgets. He wants them to be used by children after he is gone. Are you interested?
I am grateful that I said yes.
As I approached the house, I wondered what I would experience during our visit. How able would this man be? Would he be encouraged or solemn or resigned? And the most important question of all: Does he know the Lord? I had bathed the meeting in prayer and had only my Bible in my hands as I rang his doorbell. Would he even want to open the door for this strange masked man in the dark?
My trepidations and reservations steadily melted away with each minute of our meeting. This man wasn’t despondent. He certainly didn’t seem to be living anywhere close the grave. Our conversation ensued and graces were revealed. Grace upon grace, adding up to be a sweet, sweet time of discovery, artistry, love for children, and Christian fellowship.
Our masks were on, but that didn’t hinder our joy, for our eyes and vocal intonations communicated smiles and full hearts. He was a watercolorist and enjoyed making loose, gestural images of his travels throughout Europe as a young man. As a teacher, he loved exposing the children to avant garde sculptural concepts like assemblage and seeing them spring to life at the thought of creating something crazy. He crafted gadget upon gadget, invention upon invention to help children experience artmaking at its fullest. As he showed them to me, he reverted into his “goofy art teacher” voices, which I recognized right away, because that is the language I speak for 7 hours of the day Monday through Friday.
He was a former elder and deacon in his younger years. When he noticed how there were lots of Christmas manger scenes, yet not many home decor elements for Easter, he crafted one out of clay and had it turned into pewter, complete with rolling stone. He showed me his cruciform sculpture of the cross emerging from a Star of David, too.
At one point in the conversation, I asked him how he was feeling about having a shortened calendar ahead of him. His reply: “When the doctors told me, I said, ‘Hallelujah!’ I’ll finally get to see His face!” He could see the future, and it wasn’t scary; it was inviting. It was what he had been waiting for!
And I saw the future as I looked at him. I saw in him a mirror of myself, with 40 years added on. We share a love for watercolors and communicating the gospel through our art. The same love for young children and the same manner of interacting with them was evident. We also did (and still do) something for our school communities that is greater than what is expected in our job descriptions. Most importantly, our vision of our future doesn’t end with this life. We both long to see our Savior.
Yes, it was sweet fellowship indeed. He had given me three things before I left his home: a glad heart, some of his artwork, and most of his gadgets. I need to take a second trip back to fit the rest of the inventions in my car and to give him one of my paintings. Out of the blue, God had given me a new friend. He was a new brother in Christ that I will undoubtedly have more opportunity to becoming acquainted with in the new heavens and new earth than on this one. He gave me one more reason to look forward to that Day.
In my visit, I was given many gifts. I was given a vision of myself over time and an expanded desire for heaven. You could say that I was seeing the future.